Hedgehogs need our help and we should encourage them into our gardens and cherish them. Lots of people are now starting to realise this and are beginning to feed hedgehogs in their gardens. Hedgehogs particularly need food and water in the Autumn to build up their weight ready for hibernation and in the Spring when they come out of hibernation; but they also need it during hot, dry spells in the summer when their natural prey is in short supply.
The first and most important thing to mention is:
Never give them bread or milk.
But what do you feed hedgehogs? Is special hedgehog food a marketing gimmick or does it provide a perfect supplement to their natural diet?
Hedgehogs will happily munch their way through a variety of garden pests such as; slugs, snails, centipedes, beetles and other little creatures. The garden is a great place for them to find natural food and in turn they are helping gardeners manage the slimy slug population. (Watch Grumpy the hedgehog looking for bugs here)
We are lucky to have a quite a few hedgehogs living in the garden as there are lots of wild areas, log piles, compost heaps, and hedges. – The perfect hoggy habitat.
I normally see the hedgehogs about 3 times a night on my wildlife camera and I try to guess which ones they are by subtle distinguishing features but its not always that easy. They are hungry little hoggies and they munch their way through quite a bit of bought food.
Dried hedgehog food is a firm favourite in the garden. The large bag we have contains; Rice, Poultry Meal, Maize, Poultry Fat, Vitamins and Minerals. Our hedgehogs are spoilt though as they also have a variety of other food on their plate each night too. They like sunflower hearts and mealworms, nibbled nuts (not whole nuts as they can get stuck in their teeth) and sometimes dried bananas.
I have had my camera pointing at the plates of food a number of times and have found that the dried food gets mainly eaten by the hedgehogs. (only the mealworms and sunflowers we mix in attract the occasional cute wood mouse) To be honest, no other creatures get a look in as the hedgehogs find it so tasty and don’t like sharing. I have noted that Foxes will have a nibble of food if some is spilt on the floor, but they don’t like eating off the plate, and cats don’t seem interested in the dried food which is good. By the end of the night every bit has been eaten so there is never any waste.
(Check out my video here to see what happens when 2 hedgehogs find the food in a small mammal tunnel I had put in the garden)
I would definitely recommend getting a bag of dried hedgehog food as it’s an easy way to feed your hedgehogs and provide them with a nutritious well balanced meal. I am sure the crunchy consistency means it helps keep their teeth in good condition too, and is a nice supplement to slimy slugs. (You can see how much Prickles the hedgehog is enjoying the food here)
So what are you waiting for – Make your garden hedgehog friendly, place a CD sized hole at the bottom of your fence and encourage these beautiful creatures to visit your garden. In return for your kindness, they will help get rid of your garden pests.
Always leave a basin of water out with the food as all that chewing is thirsty work. (As you can see in my video here)